First ever National Tribal Opioid Summit held at Tulalip
By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News
Leaders from the Tulalip Tribes, coordinating with the Portland Area Indian Health Board, hosted the first-ever National Tribal Opioid Summit at the Tulalip Resort and Casino, August 22-24. With assistance from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director, Dr. Rahul Gupta, the group is working to create pathways for more resources and to better understand what is happening in communities all over the United States.
“This is a problem that has two sides to it, there’s a public health and public safety side,” Dr. Gupta explained. “Any given day in this country, we have about 2,000,000 people incarcerated and 95% will get out. 60-80% are in there because of drug-related use. It’s a huge issue. We figured if we just remand people who are addicts, the problem would go away; it just hasn’t. In fact, they are 120% more likely to die from overdose when released. If someone has a problem with mental health or addiction, they should be getting the help instead of being incarcerated.”
“I came from a much larger city, and I have to say without a doubt, the disproportional impact on tribal communities is significant,” said Chris Sutter, Tulalip Police Chief. “We have learned that we cannot do this in silence. We are never going to arrest our way out of this problem. We are looking into Tulalip’s long-term vision: how can we reinvent the rehabilitative incarceration system that focuses on the well-being of the person, not just locking them up but helping them become long-term citizens when they come home.”
Throughout the 3-day event, several discussions were held on how to help and heal people with addiction. The public health crisis has leaders from several tribal nations coming together in search of answers when dealing with the opioid epidemic. Some problems addressed were fentanyl, overdose rates, prevention, and mental health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says, “Many individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUD) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa.”
This has led to a whole new approach when dealing with someone who is currently in addiction. New methods have been developed and implemented to help address mental health as well as the body. People trapped by drug addiction are finally being listened to. New facilities are being built to handle the needs of people in addiction and help them find a better solution to how they live while giving them a way to manage their lives.
One of the many facilities battling the opioid epidemic is the Quil Ceda Creek Counseling Center (Q4C). On a tour of the facilities with Dr. Gupta, Tanya Burns, Q4C Administrator, stated, “For our intensive outpatients, we use a whole person approach for helping people who are in addiction get medication-assisted treatment with primary care, group therapy, counseling, resource referrals and childcare services.”
“The intention was to offer as many things under one roof as possible,” Tanya said. “When you refer people in addiction out for different services such as counseling or to see a primary care doctor, you have no way to confirm they will go or can go. So, if we can take care of that here, we have that confirmation and can diagnose them or help assist them with finding treatment. We also offer Narcan to new patients, and anybody can walk through our doors and get Narcan for free.”
If you or someone you know are facing issues dealing with addiction, you can contact the Quil Ceda Creek Counseling Company at (360)716-2211.
On a scorching summer afternoon, four Tribal mothers found comfort inside the courtroom of the Tulalip Justice Center. In a relaxing environment, much different than the typical court setting, the ladies decompressed in the comfort of air conditioning as they joined together at the center of the courtroom and circled up along with the Tulalip Family Wellness Court team.
Established in 2020, the Family Wellness Court has proven to be an effective method in assisting their clients attain and maintain their sobriety. The program accelerates the reunification process between parents and Tulalip children by way of a detailed plan that incorporates their traditional way of life and culture.
This alternative path to the road of recovery has been a major success within the Tulalip community and has reunited numerous families over the past three years. The Family Wellness Court design was based on the success of Tulalip’s Healing to Wellness Court. However, the courthouse made many modifications when developing the Family Wellness Court model.
Although the Family Wellness Court’s game plan mirrors the Healing to Wellness Court model in many aspects, the court wants to stress that the two programs are completely separate from one another. Family Wellness is volunteer-based and works with individuals on their own accord, through either a referral or self-referrals, and is not mandated by the courts. Whereas the Healing to Wellness Court works on criminal cases, where their clients could potentially face jail time if they fall out of compliance. And since the Family Wellness Court is voluntary and does not work on criminal cases, there is no punitive element to the program and the clients do not face jail time if they fall off track.
Overall, the program is built to support, encourage, and assist tribal parents and/or parents of tribal members as they work toward achieving a clean and healthy lifestyle. By following a personalized plan, put together by the individual and the Family Wellness Court team, the parents are actively fighting to regain visitation and custody rights of their kids and bring a close to their open beda?chelh cases.
The Family Wellness Court utilizes the wrap-around approach and brings together several different tribal departments to ensure each of their clients has access to the necessary resources throughout their duration in the program. The team approach plays a large role in the Family Wellness Court and in each participant’s recovery journey.
The team consists of multiple professionals including tribal courthouse judges, officials, attorneys, beda?chelh representatives, counselors and recovery specialists. The idea is that with everybody on the same page and meeting on a regular basis, the client is apt to stay in-compliance and make positive progress in maintaining their sobriety when they know exactly what their team expects from them.
The Tulalip Tribal Court believes that this collaboration between multiple departments, all with the same intent of helping people attain sobriety, is the key to success with Family Wellness Court clients. This helps them establish relationships with the judges and task force members and includes them in the entire process from the moment they accept help from the Family Wellness Court to the moment they are reunified with their children.
Many people are seeing great results with the Family Wellness Court model thanks to required ‘give back hours’. Not only does this afford tribal parents the opportunity to get reacclimated into the community, but also provides them with the chance to return to their ancestral teachings and traditional way of life through cultural engagement at local tribal events and ceremonies. Over the summer, the Family Wellness Court took this notion a step further by implementing the Parent Talking Circle into the program.
“We really wanted to incorporate the culture, especially in the Talking Circle,” explained Family Wellness Court Coordinator, Erika Moore. “We have a lot of parents who are non-tribal, and this is a good way to get our tribal members teaching the non-tribal members, so they in turn can teach their children more about their culture. It gives [tribal members] more confidence in getting back into their culture. And when we see them get back into their culture, they grow exponentially.”
Said Chemical Dependency Professional Arla Ditz, “The Talking Circle is more second nature to tribal members because it’s along the lines of the cultural teachings they were raised with. And it’s not just the culture, it’s that spirituality in general. One of the key things in successful recovery is the spiritual piece, no matter what you believe in or where you come from, it’s a really important part of recovery. And so, when we come into our circle, that really helps support that, and it brings the netting together to be more supportive for the people participating in the program. I think the Talking Circle helps people figure out their goals and achieve them much quicker, and maybe even better.”
Held at the beginning of each month, the Parent Talking Circle allows the clients to connect with each other and share their story, struggles, successes, and goals with the group. In this traditional and no pressure setting, the parents are more open to share and relate to one another’s journey, as well as express any hardships they might be encountering.
During the most recent Parent Talking Circle, the tears were rolling as the participants recounted their lifestyle prior to enrolling in the Family Wellness Court. To see how far each of them has come since the height of their addiction is heartwarming and inspiring. And hearing the moms talk about their daily interactions with their children was quite moving, considering all the adversities they had to overcome to share time and space with their kids once again.
“The Talking Circle has helped me stay accountable and encouraged me to keep going,” shared Tribal member Corrina Gobin. “It’s much more than just a circle. Today, I learned about the four sacred medicines, and it gave me the opportunity to learn something new with the whole group. Each person in the circle, you end up having a close and personal relationship with. We’re all available to help each other, whether it be rides to your kids, or back and forth to treatment, UAs, whatever it may be, they play a significant role in getting us through all the things we need to get through in order to get our kids back. They give me recognition when I’m doing things that are good, and they also call me out for not doing things that are good. I actually look forward to coming to court now because they give me that motivation.”
Tribal member Kerri Deen added, “I feel like it’s been helping me spiritually. Like the discussion today, it was about how to properly use sage and sweetgrass. The Talking Circle helps when we’re at a standstill and we’re struggling to meet our goals. No matter the situation, the team helps us get through those obstacles to get our lives back. It’s amazing and I love it because you don’t feel attacked. It’s more focused on helping each other get everything done so we can get our kids back.”
Though still in its infancy, the Parent’s Talking Circle shows nothing but promise in helping build up the local recovery community and reunify tribal children with their parents in a timely and responsible manner.
If you or a loved one are ready for a new approach to sobriety and reunification with your child, please contact the Family Wellness Court at (360) 716-4771.
Over 70 community members celebrate their sobriety at the 2nd Annual Recovery Campout
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
The journey across the Salish Sea is breathtaking, especially in the summertime, with shimmering waterways, coastlines of evergreen, and the occasional orca sighting. Many can attest to the thrill of standing out on the deck of a Washington State Ferry as the wind blows through your hair and you are left captivated by the scenic views. And whether traveling by canoe or ferry, this is a special experience for the Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest who share a connectedness to the natural world and the sacred waters that dates back to the beginning of time. Tribal members throughout the region are known to describe the waters as medicine and that being on the water is healing.
The Coast Salish Natives have ancestral ties to the San Juan Islands. Long before colonization, the sduhubš people frequented Lopez Island during the summer months to harvest from both the land and sea, as well as cultivate camas. Today, the island falls under the Tribe’s usual and accustomed areas and many Tulalip families visit to exercise their treaty rights and campout, like their ancestors before them.
Over 70 members of the local recovery community did this exact thing, traveled through the healing Salish Sea to their ancestral territory of Lopez Island for a six-day camping trip to celebrate their sobriety. During their island excursion, the participants set up camp on the Tulalip owned property surrounding Watmough Bay and got a healthy dose of sunshine, culture, and outdoor recreation while creating friendships and memories to last a lifetime.
“It’s really healing because we’re constantly by the water and we’re immersed in ecotherapy,” said Kali Joseph, Recovery Resource Center (ODMAP) Project Coordinator. “We have traditional roots here, ancestral roots here. The idea of the campout came to us by a community member who suggested that we take people who are in recovery to camp at Lopez Island. So, when that was brought to us last year, we made it happen. We probably had only 25, maybe 30 participants. This year we had 71. One night it was so loud, it was awesome to hear all the laughs, we all just felt that medicine.”
A lot of times, when speaking about addiction and recovery, the focus tends to lean toward the statistics as opioid deaths and overdoses continue to rise across the nation. However, it is equally important, if not more so, to highlight those who have attained a clean and sober lifestyle, those who are putting in work and are determined to not become another one of those statistics, those who are proving that it’s possible to overcome their battle with addiction.
Locally, more and more individuals are finding their sobriety through an effective tribal wellness court program, which has a large cultural aspect to it. Additionally, the Recovery Resource Center continues to be a safe space for those struggling with addiction by hosting events such as Narcan distributions, as well as weekly NA meetings. It is heartwarming to see the recovery community grow and to witness them engage in community gatherings, traditional activities, and cultural events together while on the road to recovery.
The campout is another example of how Tulalips in recovery can join together and tap into their ancestral teachings to help aid along their recovery journey.
Said Kali, “It was really awesome and a great way to bring a different form of prevention forward. Recovery camp helped support, establish, and nurture their peer support network. Sharing space together and laughter in such a beautiful place, during such a beautiful time of year, the folks who attended will share these memories forever with one another.”
The campers were kept busy throughout their stay on the island. In addition to reconnecting with their ancestral way of life, the recovery community had plenty of activities to take part in such as hiking, kayaking, biking, swimming, paddleboarding, as well as competing in volleyball and badminton matches. The nightly NA meetings and campfire talking circles brought the community even closer by allowing the attendees the opportunity to share their story and relate with others who went through and overcame similar struggles.
Upon returning to Tulalip, three tribal members reflected on their getaway to Lopez Island and shared their experience with the syəcəb.
“The 2nd Annual Recovery Campout was a blast,” exclaimed William Thomas. “I’m happy with how many people showed up this year, and also how many of us from 2022 are still clean and participated once again. And all the new ones who were there to bond, have fun, and make memories that we will all remember. All the photos and videos we made during the hikes, games, canoeing, paddle boards, biking, swimming, the meetings we did every night; I’m so glad I got to be a part of it again this year. I can’t wait for next year. Happy and loving life today with 468 days clean and sober. Love and respect to the squad, and all the new friends we made along the way. And thanks to ODMAP staff and all who made this happen.”
Ezra Hatch shared, “It was really awesome to hang out with others who are in recovery! From swimming to volleyball to kayaking to the campfire meetings – and just all the laughter, it really was such an amazing experience. I’m grateful I was a part of it. Thank you for putting it on for us.”
And Kerri Deen expressed, “When I first got to the camp, I got the best vibe from everyone. They had the best energy coming from them, the workers included, you can tell they actually wanted to be there – and not like they had to be there. I was only there for two days, but in those two days we went bike riding, kayaking, hiking, we got to listen to people drum and sing, and watched a beautiful sunset with an amazing view. It was spiritual healing I didn’t know I needed. I felt so whole by the time I left the island. I will 100% do it next year!”
After doubling the number of participants from the first campout, the Recovery Resource Center is already excited to see what next summer will bring as the word about the campout continues to spread through the recovery community. More fun, healing, laughter, bonding, and culture are sure to be on the agenda for the 3rd Annual Tulalip Recovery Campout. In the meantime, be sure to follow the Tulalip Recovery Community page on Facebook to stay current on any news or events planned by the Recovery Resource Center. You can also reach out to (360) 716-4773 for more information.
“I just hope they all left with good memories,” said Kali. “And I hope they can see how healing and impactful coming together to celebrate recovery can be. Because when you’re in addiction, I feel that it’s a lot of unresolved grief, or disenfranchised grief, associated with substance use disorder – for the person and for their loved ones. And I think that having the campout can help the folks who are using heal. It can bring happiness from something that was so heavy and traumatic for both the person who was using and their families.”
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News, photos courtesy A.J. Parish
Were you aware that July 24 is International Self-Care Day? It’s true. Look it up if you don’t believe us.
A quick history lesson: in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a “Self-Care Month” starting on June 24 and ending on July 24 to coincide with International Self-Care Day. This month-long stretch was deemed ample opportunity to allow for regional and national level initiatives by the WHO and its health-conscious partners to be highlighted.
Self-Care Day stresses the importance of self-care as the cornerstone of wellness. On this day, individuals worldwide are encouraged to make self-care a part of their everyday routines and turn it into a priority. It is a milestone and an opportunity to raise further awareness of the benefits of effective self-management of health. The concept of self-care has been around for a while, but it has recently received much attention because of its emphasis on wellness. This can include anything from following a healthy diet and exercising proper cleanliness to developing disease-prevention strategies in one’s daily routine.
Self-care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, exercise), and environmental factors (living conditions, social habits).
In celebration of the upcoming day dedicated to self-care, we caught up with Tulalip’s own Charlie Contraro to discuss her recent accomplishments and the role self-care plays in her life.
As a proud Native American and Tulalip citizen, Charlie was born into a world full of studies, statistics, and reports that attempt to decree that because of her heritage and close residency to her home reservation, she is at high risk for a litany of life debilitating diseases. The most pervasive being diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart failure), substance abuse disorder, various forms of cancer, and liver disease.
To her fortune, Charlie’s parents Mike Contraro and Annie Jo Parish firmly believe in the notion that prevention is the best medicine. In their decade of parenting their youngest daughter to not just know of but actually embody self-care as medicine, young Charlie has become a delightful oddity compared to her peers. She devours blueberries by the handfuls, enjoys chicken breast as a primary protein source, routinely declines processed foods, and her beverages of choice are not sugar-filled sports drinks and pop. Instead, she prefers the standard taste of life-giving water and reaps the rehydration benefits of Pedialyte after her games.
This seemingly simple yet difficult to live by mantra to forego processed foods and refined sugars for more nutrient-dense, vitamin-filled food comes with a whole host of performance benefits for the recent 4th-grade graduate. Measuring five-foot two-inches tall and weighing 97 pounds, Charlie’s physical stature is one of a lean and agile athlete capable of extended peak performance. Typifying that point, her recent performance on the basketball courts of Arizona while competing in the 2023 Native American Jr. Nationals brought her much adoration from teammates, opponents, and top-tier youth basketball scouts.
During a GC3 Hoops live special about the state of tribal athletics, one scout said after watching Charlie’s team Seven Feathers play, “Their star point guard, Charlie, is already my #1 prospect for the class of 2031. You can put her in your database right now.”
George Courtney, Senior Editor for GC3, added, “She played up in the middle school division with the Young Warriors, as well. I’m watching her and taking notes. Then when I talked to her after the game and learned she’s only a 4th grader, I was like, ‘WOW! She’s special and going to be really, really good.’ She has a great I.Q., she handles the ball well, has great feel and anticipation for the game, and has everything you’d want in the foundation for a young athlete. I was very impressed with her. In fact, I had one of the college coaches who was in attendance come over and ask for her information because they want to keep a tab on her.”
In Arizona, Charlie continued her recent play with a self-described All-Star team with her co-ed team Seven Feathers. Featuring four of her Yakama and Colville cousins, this team has a much more instinctive and free-flowing feel to it than her more structured Tree of Hope team operating under Nike’s AAU umbrella. Charlie and her Seven Feathers all-Native team dominated in Lummi back in April, winning every game by close to 40 points per game. Then they traveled to Mesa, Arizona’s Legacy Sports Complex, for Jr. Nationals last month. Her team again dominated, going undefeated in pool play, bracket play, and ran away with the W in the championship game.
“It’s a lot of fun playing with a team that every player can dribble, pass, and shoot. And defend!” declared 10-year-old Charlie after returning from Arizona with bragging rights for being selected to the All-Tournament team and winning a legit championship belt. “I feel like Rocky Balboa after he became champion.”
After winning it all at Jr. Nationals, Charlie’s parents permitted her to get her first taste of a genuine media day. She was subsequently interviewed by regional coaches and scouts, like those of GC3, and got photographed for Tribal Athletics promotional materials. Of course, the bucket getter had to pose with her Wilson Evolution basketball and championship belt.
As her on-court potential continues to soar with each passing Native tournament and AAU season, Charlie’s consistent discipline with how she fuels her body with water, fruits, veggies, and lean meats remains steadfast. She’s seen the results and knows what works for her self-care routine. However, she also knows there’s always room for improvement.
To avoid burnout with high-level, year-round basketball, Charlie and her family agreed to make the most of short-term pauses between seasons so that she could develop other passions. Knowing that her mom and dad first met when they were frequent competitors on the Native softball circuit, Charlie opted to try her skills on the softball field. Her point guard mentality transitioned seamlessly to the pitching mound, where she most recently competed in Everett Little League for the Orcas.
In softball, she worked towards finding a new routine. One that consisted of warming up pre-game by pitching to her dad after he braided her hair, enjoying her always scrumptious blueberries, and then implementing a series of visualizations. She would visualize her pitches and their ideal locations to each hitter to maximize her opportunities for getting strikeouts.
Charlie didn’t experience the same level of team success on the softball field that she routinely secures on the basketball court, but she admitted it was still a lot of fun to be challenged in new ways. “When I’m pitching and things aren’t going my way, I take time to reflect and replay my pitches in my head between innings. If I can see what I did wrong, then I can make adjustments and get it right the next inning. Plus, there are always more games and more chances to get better,” she said.
At just 10-years-old, Charlie is a true breath of fresh air as it relates to Tulalip’s next generation and their acceptance of prioritizing self-care for a strong mind and body that are capable of not just persevering through physical challenges, but making sound mental adjustments when faced with an obstacle to increase their chances for success. So on this International Self-Care Day, we encourage our readers to be like young Charlie for just one day by drinking only water, eating a handful or two of blueberries, and making time to sit in the peace and quiet in order to visualize what your goals are and what adjustments you can make to accomplish them.
Container for Life is an exciting and potentially life-saving program being welcomed into our Tulalip community. In a collaborative effort led by Community Health and Tulalip Bay Fire to not waste a single second while attending to on-reservation residents during emergency situations, the family-friendly Container for Life launch event was held on June 16.
Hosted at the Tulalip Bay fire station, the always on alert firefighting team teamed up with the endlessly patrolling police officers to offer a memorable BBQ spread that got hungry passers-by to stop for a bite. After filling their bellies with grub, they were offered dessert in the form of sweet information about the many benefits of becoming a Container for Life participant.
“When a medical emergency occurs, it’s very hard for the person involved or their family to answer all the questions that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and/or medical personnel will need to ask,” explained the lead nurse for Community Health, Ashley Schmidt. “With the Container for Life, most of that information is in the container. This helps ease stress and errors that can occur when people are under duress.
“Tulalip consists of 22,000 acres or 35 square miles. Much of the area has limited access, often only one road in and out,” she added. “Four out of five Tulalip emergencies happen in the home. The Container for Life will greatly assist in addressing medical needs immediately and possibly prevent a need to go to the hospital, not to mention this could be lifesaving. In addition, there is a section on the medical information form for tribal members to include preferences and goals of care. For example, this would be a great place to include cultural considerations such as not cutting one’s hair or spiritual preferences.”
The Container for Life program is nationally recognized for saving countless lives each year by providing emergency responders with life-saving medical information during an emergency. The Container for Life is a form that is stored in your refrigerator. When emergency responders are called to your home they will see the Container for Life sticker on your front door and know to go to your refrigerator to get your important medical information.
The simple to fill-out form, held in an easily recognizable container is designed to speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself. The container holds all the information you deem important enough to share in the event that emergency services are called to administer proper medical treatment, or you are in a situation that requires treatment at a new medical facility.
“My dad has had several health scares over the past year. We’ve noticed that when he’s gone by ambulance to the hospital, and we’ve followed by car, they keep the family out while administering medical care,” shared Amy Sheldon, daughter of Container for Life participant Ray Sheldon. “This can sometimes be as long as an hour or even two, where we can’t be with him. It’s always a concern whether or not they know all his relevant information. With this container, we know that they can find all his important information, like what medications he’s currently taking and what his allergies are.”
It’s the mission of Community Health and Tulalip Bay Fire to ensure every elder on the reservation is given the opportunity to become a participant. But this program isn’t limited to just elders, all adults and kids can benefit from participating, as well.
“We came for the learning experience and to let the kids see the fire trucks up close, and to enjoy the BBQ,” said Annette Cheer with four young ones in tow. “They were so excited to interact with the firefighters and Buster the police dog. We learned a lot. I can attest to the importance of children needing to participate in the Container for Life, especially if they have really bad allergies or are taking any medications. You never know what could happen, so it’s better to be prepared.”
Each Container for Life kit includes:
The Container for Life vial
A branded magnet for the refrigerator
A branded window cling for a front-facing door or window
2 medical information forms
An instruction card explaining how to use all of the above items
Having your critical information available in an emergency could be the difference between life and death. If you or a loved one wish to participate, Containers for Life kits are available for pick-up both at the Tulalip Bay Fire Department and Community Health buildings.
Community Health can be contacted for additional information at 360.716.5662 option 5.
Aiming to build a strong and local recovery community so the people can heal together, the tribe’s Family Services Problem Gambling program is bringing the Wellbriety Movement to Tulalip. This past May, the program hosted a three-day training called the Medicine Wheel and the 12 steps. This training was limited to the first fifteen people to sign up and was focused on tribal adults in recovery.
The training was created by White Bison, a Native American non-profit that founded the Wellbriety Movement in order to bring healing and recovery to tribal communities. By utilizing cultural practices and teachings to combat addiction, Indigenous nations throughout the country are seeing positive results thanks to White Bison’s trainings.
The trainings are often referred to as fire starters, and they are designed to help get the ball rolling for recovering addicts and encourages them to take the initiative to build a recovery community from within the tribe. After a successful training for adults, the Problem Gambling program is preparing for another Medicine Wheel and 12 steps training, and this one is geared toward the youth of the community, ages 13 to 21.
“We chose to do the youth training because it doesn’t seem like this is an area that’s talked about much with the youth; there’s not a whole lot of support in this area,” said Substance Use Disorder Professional, Robin Johnson. “And it’s intimidating when you’re a youth, to say that ‘I’m in recovery’ or ‘I don’t want to use’. High school and junior high are hard enough, it can be intimidating to take your stance.”
During the youth training, participants will delve into heavy topics including a look at how many of us were raised and how growing up in an environment where trauma lives and thrives, and where drug use and alcohol is often prevalent, can lead many children down a road to substance abuse, acting out, and depression.
“Hopefully this helps bring a better understanding, because it talks a lot about intergenerational trauma,” Robin explained. “So, a better understanding of that and also their own family dynamics. Because that dynamic – if there’s no understanding, they feel responsible and start blaming themselves. This gives them an understanding of where it started, and why it’s happened within their families, and why it continues to happen.”
By providing that understanding , the program gives young adults the power back in their lives and teaches them how to ‘re-chart their lives with healthy choices and healthy behaviors’. The training harkens back to the teachings of our elders and uses the art of storytelling as an instructional method throughout the program.
“What sets this training apart is, with the medicine wheel you do the steps in a circle,” stated Robin. “In the linear way, when you relapse you start over. In AA or NA, you start over. But with the medicine wheel, it’s in a continuous circle, so you just continue moving forward and that makes a huge difference.”
Along with the 12 steps, which helps with your personal character development, the youth will also sharpen a number of life skills in areas such as decision making, goal setting, solution finding, and creating a healthy self-image, among others.
In addition to this training, the Problem Gambling program will also be hosting the White Buffalo’s Warrior Down this August. Warrior Down is a relapse and recovery support program for Natives who are completing treatment, as well as those who are returning to the community from incarceration. It’s also open to anyone with aspirations to become a local recovery coach, those who are on the road to recovery and are looking to be a pillar of support for others in the community who are going through similar tribulations.
Said Robin, “By providing these trainings, people can then decide if this is something they want to bring into the community. And hopefully, they will get fired up about starting this. The ultimate thing that I would love to see is the youth, with the support of their parents or an adult, get some meetings started in hopes other youth would join in and want to take part.”
The Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps for youth training is a three-day program and begins on June 20, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The training will be held at the Kenny Moses building. For more information, or to sign up for the training, please contact Robin Johnson at (360) 722-1067.
“Your present situation isn’t your final destination, take every opportunity to learn and grow, be the next generation of leaders in this community. Find your truth, use your voice,” Robin expressed. “Tulalip offers so many ways to connect to its heritage and culture, this training is another way to cultivate an understanding of the history to influence positive change for the future.”
An exciting and potentially life-saving program is being welcomed into the Tulalip community. In a true collaborative effort by Community Health and Tulalip Bay Fire to not waste a single second while attending to our on-reservation residents during emergency situations, the family friendly Container for Life launch event is scheduled for June 16, from 3pm to 5pm, at the Tulalip fire station.
The Container for Life is designed to speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself. The container holds important information that can assist emergency personnel in administering proper medical treatment.
“When a medical emergency has occurred, it’s very hard for the person involved or their family to answer all the questions that EMS and/or medical personnel will need to ask. With the Container for Life, most of that information is in the container. This helps ease stress and errors that can occur when people are under duress,” explained lead nurse for Community Health, Ashley Schmidt.
What is the Container for Life program?
The Container for Life program is a community safety and harm reduction program. In the case of a medical emergency one of the most crucial factors is time. The Container for Life provides crucial information for EMS and medical professionals to quickly assess and respond on an individual basis during an emergency.
Why should our community make it a priority to implement the Container for Life in their homes?
Tulalip consists of 22,000 acres or 35 square miles. Much of the area has limited access, often only one road in and out. 4 out of 5 Tulalip emergencies happen in the home. The Container for Life will greatly assist in addressing medical needs immediately and possibly prevent a need to go the hospital, not to mention this could be lifesaving. In addition, there is a section on the Medical Information Form for tribal members to include preferences and goals of care. For example, this would be a great place to include cultural considerations such as not cutting one’s hair or spiritual preferences.
Which services and programs are collaborating to bring this potentially lifesaving program to Tulalip?
The Community Health nurse team and the Tulalip Bay Fire paramedic team have partnered together to bring this life saving product to tribal homes. The Community Health Department was awarded a Public Health Improvement & Training subaward through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB).
This subaward will fund the Container for Life project as well as ACT community classes. ACT stands for Antidote, CPR and Tourniquet. The Community Health nurses and community paramedics will offer important classes on reversing overdoses using Narcan, compression-only bystander CPR and in-the-field tourniquet use to stop critical bleeds (i.e. fishing or hunting accidents, car or ATV accidents, etc.). These classes will begin later this summer.
Who is championing the Container for Life cause already and what messages are they hoping to share?
Ray Sheldon Jr. and Rhonda Gobin are our two Container for Life champions. Ray said, “We have to think about the larger picture. If I have to go to a new medical provider or for some reason have to go to a different hospital than Providence, say Overlake or Evergreen, then I can grab the container. It has all my important medical information in it and is readily accessible to go where I go. It’s a win-win.”
Rhonda shared, “Not everyone has access to get a Life Alert. Knowing that I live alone and my information is there if it is needed. It gives me lots of assurance and confidence in the EMTs. I’d advise my fellow elders to not be afraid and try something new. Trust in this program because it is good. This makes me feel safe. I have had many good experiences with Tulalip Bay Fire. This Container for Life would have saved my grandmas life and many other people’s lives. We have attended so many funerals that we should never had to if they had this.”
How can interested individuals and/or families participate?
KICK-OFF distribution event: Friday June 16th at 3pm, come by the Tulalip Bay Fire Department to learn about the project, receive a Container for Life kit and meet the teams! This is a family-friendly event. We will serve BBQ foods. We will also have TPD Community Outreach there with the canine unit and the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator to engage with the community.
After the distribution event, we will have Containers for Life kits available for pick-up both at the TBFD and Community Health buildings. In addition, EMS teams will have kits for distribution while they work in the field.
Community Health can be contacted for additional information at 360.716.5662 option 5.
Each Container for Life kits will include:
The Container for Life vial
A branded magnet for the refrigerator
A branded window cling for a front facing door or window
2 medical information forms
An instruction card explaining how to use all of the above items
With the popular rise of sports betting and modern technology expanding the accessibility of gambling, experts are becoming concerned and are raising awareness about the progression of gambling addiction.
According to the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling, problem gambling is a serious health issue affecting between 80,000 and 160,000 Washington State residents, or 2 to 4 percent of adults and 8 to 9 percent of adolescents and young adults. In 2020, Washington’s net gambling receipts exceeded $3 billion.
Tulalip’s Problem Gambling program helps mitigate this problem within the tribe by providing numerous resources for tribal members. The program offers services such as counseling, referrals, treatment, consultation for interventions, and community-wide events and activities such as Positive Day of Action, training for Wellness Court, a youth summit, the Problem Gambling Dinner, and a Holiday Kick-Off event to bring the community together and raise awareness of gambling addiction.
On March 27th, the Tulalip Tribes Problem Gambling Program and dozens of community members joined together at the Tulalip Resort Casino to celebrate and support the continued progress and sobriety of gambling addicts and their families. Traditional prayers and drumming filled the room to bless and open the event. The evening featured a comedic act from Tonia Jo Hall, a performance by the 206 singers, and gambling recovery speakers.
Tribal member Theodore (Theo) Sam, of Gambler’s Anonymous, shared his story of the slow progression of his gambling addiction. He discussed how it can start with a few small bets and quickly spin out of control. His addiction grew to the point where he took out loans, borrowed money from people around him, sold things in his home, and missed many family events and holidays. Eventually, gambling consumed his life. He lost everything, including his four daughters, and became suicidal.
Theo is now over two years sober, with custody of his children, and in a stable home environment. He has goals to open his own espresso stand and make a name for himself. Throughout his story, his daughters remained at his side in support of him and his recovery. He looked at them and apologized for all the pain he had caused.
“We have to make a choice every day. I used to think gambling would make my dreams come true. But now, I can’t believe the progress I’ve made by admitting I have a problem. My life is finally back on track. Giving up gambling was one of the best things I could’ve done for myself and my family,” Theo said.
One of the community members who had previously heard Theo’s story, was so moved by his perseverance that he gifted Theo with a bear tooth.
As the evening concluded, participants rejoiced in the strength of our people, the ability to overcome, and hopes for the future.
The Tulalip Problem Gambling Program continues to assist individuals and family members through recovery, allowing them to resume their life with a renewed sense of balance, health, responsibility, and purpose. For more information, please get in touch with Sarah at 360-716-4400.
It might be a bold statement to say that prior to colonization, the Indigenous peoples of North America had naturally healthy skin. But before you dismiss that statement, let’s compare it to our skin in modern times. Back in the day, sticking to a nutritious and traditional diet, Natives benefited from an abundance of healthy oils, fats, and vitamins through the food they consumed, such as salmon, shellfish, elk, deer, buffalo, and a variety of fruits and vegetation.
And though most Natives have a connection to those traditional foods to this day, there are a plethora of foods out there that we’ve tried to acclimate to. In many cases, it’s clear to see that we are not meant to eat or drink the manufactured, sugary, high-sodium foods that we’ve become addicted to, thanks to the fact that a lot of reservations are based on a food desert. The majority of us have grown accustomed to what is convenient and readily available like fast food, commodities, and the junk food aisles at the nearest mom-and-pop shop. And this has led to numerous health concerns like obesity and diabetes, as well as skin issues such as acne, rosacea, and eczema.
Now, being that it’s next to impossible to maintain a true traditional diet in today’s society, a lot of Indigenous people are left to their own devices in managing their skincare routine, and many of them do not know where to begin in the process of clearing up their skin.
Tulalip tribal member, Kwani Sanchey, has dedicated her life to her passion for beauty cosmetics. In her adolescent years, Kwani frequently visited the T Spa at the Tulalip Resort Casino, alongside her grandmother Rita Gobin, where they would spend the day receiving self-care services and perusing the retail floor for makeup and skin care products. Acquiring the knowledge of the many benefits that those products offer, Kwani developed a deep understanding of why skin care is essential in the world of today.
Since then, Kwani found the love of her life and subsequently started a family. And through the years, she maintained a close relationship with the beauty industry, thereby strengthening her relationship with her grandma even further, as the art of beautification happens to be an interest and a bond that they share together.
In 2020, Kwani enrolled at the Euro Institute of Skin Care and put in 750 hours of coursework and hands-on training to earn her esthetician license during the global pandemic. And now, after starting her own practice, Sacred Skin Kare, Kwani is available five days a week and offers facials to the people of the greater Snohomish County area. And most importantly, she shows a strong desire to impart skincare knowledge to the Indigenous population, especially to those from her homelands, the community of Tulalip.
Bringing everything full circle, Kwani offers facials at the T Spa every Monday. She also operates out of her own space at the Blume Salon Studios in Smokey Point. Currently, she offers three facials, the Stoodis, the Deadly Glow, and the Sacred Signature, all aptly named to reflect her Indigenous roots. And keeping her heritage and culture at the forefront of her business, Kwani enlisted Tulalip and Quileute artist, Marysa Joy Sylvester, to design the logo for Sacred Skin Kare.
Recently, Kwani took the time to demonstrate a Stoodis Facial for Tulalip News, both the syəcəb and Tulalip TV. And the model for the facial was none other than her grandmother Rita, who encouraged Kwani throughout her journey in esthetics. Below, we have a fun Q&A with Kwani to spread the word about her Tulalip member-owned business, and also the many benefits of skin care… *ahem*… or should we say, skin ‘kare’.
Let’s begin with your journey in skin care, what led you to this career path?
Honestly, I’ve always been interested in cosmetology. I remember seeing a post on social media that sparked my interest even more. I looked into the school, I went and visited the school, and it was something that I instantly knew that I wanted to pursue. I resigned from my job and started going to school full-time. Beauty is something that I’ve always been into, and it started with makeup. And also, my grandma is one of my main inspirations, she’s always helped me, and she taught me how to take care of my skin properly.
You mentioned that you attended school full-time upon finding your passion. Can you elaborate on your schooling experience?
School was 750 hours, and I went to the Euro Institute in Renton. I traveled two hours each way, with traffic, every day for four days a week, and every other Saturday. It was a lot of textbook work rather than hands-on training, but I gained a lot of in-depth knowledge about the skin – skin conditions, skin types, [etc…].
You incorporate a lot of your culture into your business, why is that important for you to exhibit?
When I was in school, I never thought of going into my own business until about halfway through the program. When I was making my Instagram business profile, I wanted it to be in tune with my Indigenous background, because I want my culture to be a part of it. I’m very proud of being Native American, so I wanted my business to be authentic to my heritage. I thought of the name, Sacred Skin Kare, with a ‘K’, because my name starts with a K. And I also wanted the names of my facials to connect with my community. I wanted it to hit them in a certain way, to where they would be like ‘oh my gosh, that’s so funny.’ So, for instance, I created the Stoodis (let’s do this) Facial because it’s a quick facial, and I wanted it to resonate with my Indigenous community.
Do you have a lot of Tulalip tribal members come in to receive services?
I do! I have a lot of people from the Tulalip community come to see me. And when people see me in public, they always ask questions and tell me that they’ve never had a facial before, and that they want to book a service with me. I definitely make a lot of connections at Tulalip, and it’s always nice to see them when they come in.
How many Tribal members have never had a facial before coming to see you?
I have been all of my clients first facial! I feel like it’s not a service that a lot of people think of getting, people tend to get massages rather than facials. So, I really like to reach out to my Indigenous community.
How does it feel to provide those skin care services to those who have never received a facial before?
It always feels so good. I feel like I am meant for this. I’ve been told that I have a very gentle touch, so doing facials is something that I really enjoy. And afterwards, I always feel so rejuvenated – I love what I do. I feel so good after I’m done with my day – if it’s one facial or if it’s four facials, it makes me happy knowing that I am helping people. And I always try and educate people on the products that I use during their facials, or the products that I recommend for them to use that would best benefit them for their skin needs.
I personally love providing that service to people and educating them. Not a lot of people take care of their skin or know how to properly take care of their skin. And for them to take on my advice and my recommendations makes me feel really accomplished as an esthetician.
What services do you offer at Sacred Skin Kare and what is your process during a facial?
I offer a couple different facials. One is a quick 30-to-45-minute facial, it’s for somebody who wants a quick refresher. That’s also a great facial for a teen. It’s really cleansing. I’ll do an enzyme, which is an exfoliation that renews the skin cells, takes the dead skin cells off, and brightens the skin. And it really targets whatever your skin needs.
I’ll pick out the products, I have different products that are for different skin types – dry, normal, combination, and oily. And then I also do dermaplane, which is mechanical exfoliation, that takes off the dead skin cells and the fuzzies.
How often can you receive a facial and what is the importance of keeping up with your skincare?
Facials are good every four to six weeks. Once a month is what they recommend. And it’s so relaxing and it’s a form of self-care. It makes you feel good after, and it helps your skin – it helps with anti-aging and it’s hydrating, which I feel like everyone can benefit from.
What is your personal highlight when providing someone with one of your services?
My favorite right now is dermaplaning, I love to dermaplane. I feel like it really makes a difference for people’s skin.
As far as home care, do you recommend a certain regimen for those looking to take better care of their skin?
I recommend for everyone to use a cleanser, a serum, and a moisturizer. That’s the minimum of what is beneficial for your skin, and that targets what your skin needs. So, when people come in, I’ll recommend different products specifically for their skin type.
Are there any products that people should avoid?
St. Ives, that’s the one product that I definitely do not recommend.
What are your future plans for Sacred Skin Kare?
I want to incorporate more beneficial facial machines, so I can have more facial options for my clients.
Can you touch on your schedule, and also let the people know how they can learn more about the services you offer?
I’m at the T spa on Mondays, and I have my schedule open here at [Blume Salon Studios] from Tuesday to Friday. I have a lot of clients reach out to me on Facebook, and I have a website where they can book their services. That way they can book their own appointments to best fit their schedule and can take a look at what services they would like to get.
Kwani’s Sacred Skin Kare is on the rise, and she is just getting started. Be sure to follow her Instagram page @SacredSkinKare to see a number of before and after photos, catch her latest deals and seasonal services, and book a facial with her through the link on her profile.
The link will bring you to her site where you can find a detailed description of each of her services, as well as pricing info.
And we feel it’s important to note, with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up, that she offers e-gift cards that can be sent to your loved ones via e-mail, for the amounts of $5, $10, $20, $50, or for a custom dollar amount.
“I heard a story recently from a family who received a diagnosis of autism for their grandson,” recounted Nicole Couevas, Family Haven Case Manager. “The grandma told me she didn’t know what to do or where to turn. So, she pulled off to the side of the road and walked up to Jared’s [Parks] house, and knocked. And she said, ‘I need help’.”
Autism is a common, yet very complex, intellectual developmental disability (IDD) that has significantly been on the rise over the past two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in forty-four children in the United States are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a statistic that was revealed in a 2018 study. It’s important to note that those reports show that the number of autism diagnoses has nearly tripled since the year 2000. Many are now speculating that since the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has increased even more, as parents were with their children 24/7, and therefore were able to recognize some of those IDD characteristics, and in turn receive an official diagnosis.
Nicole explained, “IDD covers neurological and developmental; anything that affects cognitive memory skills falls under intellectual. And then developmental can be anything physical. So, under that umbrella comes Down Syndrome, Autism, Fragile X, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, genetic disorders – so it’s not specific to just autism, though we know that assistance is much-needed in that area right now.”
Those living with an IDD diagnosis often begin showing signs in the early childhood development years and usually receive a diagnosis after the age of three, however, a child can receive a diagnosis as early as eighteen months. Early indicators of autism specifically, include language delay, repetitive behavior, obsessive interests, as well as social and communication challenges. The CDC states that children with IDD have different ways of learning, moving, paying attention, and interacting with the world around them.
Now considering these statistics, and the fact that you’re reading a tribal news article, one might begin to wonder what IDD looks like within the Native community. Historically, statistics in Native America are often underreported due to a lack of resources for reservation-based families in regards to issues such as mental and physical health, substance abuse and addiction, homelessness, and violence against women, children and two-spirit tribal members. And the same could be said about Native children living with ASD and IDD. A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that Native youth are 13% less likely to be identified with autism, while non-Native kids are 1.5 times as likely to receive an ASD diagnosis at a young age. And those low statistics and the lack of available knowledge surrounding IDD tends to lead to negative misconceptions, denial, and a feeling of despair once an Indigenous child is diagnosed with any form of IDD.
Let’s backtrack to the story of the local grandmother who didn’t know where to go after receiving her grandson’s diagnosis. She immediately went to the Parks family for assistance. This is important because it shows that a handful of tribal members are already putting in the effort to erase any stigmas surrounding IDD, and that they are out in the community raising awareness about autism by sharing their personal experiences. And thanks to the time and care that organizations like Jared’s CORNer, Leah’s Dream Foundation, and the Aktion Club of Marysville and Tulalip have dedicated to the Special Needs community, people know that they are not alone, and that they can get through it with a level head and a full heart.
If we take a moment to place ourselves in the shoes of that grandmother during her family’s hour of need, most of us wouldn’t know where to turn either.
Said Family Haven Director, Alison Bowen, “There are people within the community who are doing this work, and we want to hold them up for all the good that they’ve done. But at the same time, they can’t be the go-to for everybody, that becomes hard – being that one person who everybody goes to after a diagnosis. Amy [Sheldon] is amazing, Deanna [Sheldon] is amazing, Jared is amazing, but they need to be able to achieve the goal they are trying to reach too.”
In that moment, the grandmother made the best call by reaching out to somebody who’s gone through a similar experience. But let’s ponder a what-if scenario. What if, after receiving that diagnosis, the family knew exactly where to go? What if there was a system already set in place that laid out all the resources and possible avenues that the family could take? What if there was someone who they could speak to who was familiar with the Tulalip community and culture, and the advantages that ceremony and ancestral teachings can offer people with IDD? And conversely, what if someone was there to help them navigate all the obstacles that Native families face after an IDD diagnosis, such as the lack of readily available resources due to their location?
Enter the new Family Haven program, the Intellectual Developmental Disability Support for Families. Still in its infancy, the program is being fine-tuned to meet the needs of Tulalip families who are supporting a loved one with IDD. So far, the program has hosted two meet-and-greet gatherings, and they will soon be releasing a survey to get as much feedback from the community as they can in order to tailor the program to best fit Tulalip.
“Part of our mission is that we want people to know that disabled or not, you are Tulalip. You have the rights that everyone else has the rights to; you have a right to your culture, you have a right to your lifeways,” said Nicole. “We want to dispel these myths about autism. It doesn’t mean that something’s wrong with our families. It doesn’t mean that something’s wrong with the parents. It doesn’t mean that somebody did something, or that someone took drugs or anything to cause this. It’s just what happened. And we know this because there’s no race that isn’t affected by IDD. Autism isn’t something that happens to one ethnic group or religious group, it goes beyond all borders. It doesn’t distinguish between anybody. And what’s most important for the community to realize is that they’re still our kids. And they still deserve as much love, respect, and opportunity as any other kid.”
The IDD Support for Families program was developed to help the community in numerous ways, but its main objective is for families to utilize it to help bridge the gap between the reservation and the resources. The program accepts referrals, and Family Haven is anticipating that most referrals will come from evaluations conducted at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy and the Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, although they will also accept referrals from a family’s primary care physician as well as self-referrals. Any Tulalip family that is ready to receive that additional help, can contact the program at any time for their guidance. And to make the transition as smooth as possible, Family Haven has entered a collaborative partnership with TELA and the Clinic, so if a referral is placed, then the program can offer their assistance early in the family’s journey. Medical diagnoses are not necessary, as the program can help the family navigate that process as well.
Nicole shared, “One of our biggest goals is to support people where they live. We acknowledge and understand that not knowing where to go for help can be overwhelming. We’re willing to be there that first time you meet with anybody [doctors, foundations, organizations, etc..] because it can be so overwhelming. It can make a difference having somebody there who has that connection with the community and understands not just what a family is feeling, having their child’s new diagnosis brought to their attention, but also understands the culture. That can help make an easy transition for that parent and that child to access those outside services.”
Down the line, the program will expand its services to assist any tribal member with IDD between the ages of 0 to 24. But for now, while the program is building its name and making headway, its focus will solely be the children with IDD who are in the age range of birth to five and are currently in those critical early development years.
Alison elaborated, “Early intervention can dramatically shift how a child does when they go to school, and also their future development. If they have that one-on-one care, or that specialized service that isn’t normally provided within the community, a lot of catching-up can occur, and a lot of gains can be made for that child. And that impacts their future in a good way.
“Receiving these early interventions for your child before the age of three is easy, and there does not need to be any formal diagnosis. If you are having those concerns, talk with your child’s doctor or just give us a call. We can have somebody come in and share exercises that you can do with your child to help get them caught up. At times, it really may be as simple as that.”
Aside from the important work of providing resources to Tulalip families, the new program has plenty of fun events and activities planned through the summer months as well. Such plans include monthly play groups, where the IDD Support for Families program arranges park outings for the children to help build their social and interactive skills through playtime with other youth from the community.
The program is partnering with the Arc of Snohomish County to bring new devices and inclusive equipment made specifically to assist children with IDD, such as ADA swing seats and wheelchair swings. And the program is also looking to purchase portable and sensory-friendly equipment of their own, so that families can try and enjoy some of those fun items and activities with their child.
Another future event that is currently in the works is what is soon-to-be-known as Café Days. At these gatherings, families will be able to join together to share resources, information, and stories with each other. Which is a great way to help each other out while also continuing to build that sense of community as IDD becomes more common and accepted within the society of Tulalip.
Expressed Nicole, “[Stigma surrounding IDD] is a real thing. Our message about this new program isn’t that we perceive kids with disabilities as disabled, because they’re not. I think a lot of us have this old image in our heads of that special-ed classroom from the 80s and 90s, where you had the kids who were basically hushed and pushed away, and it was us vs. them. But that’s not the world we live in anymore; we’re all one.”
She continued, “We’re not here to say they need to be fixed. That’s not the point of this program. This is to show all the different ways we can help your family to better maneuver in the world with IDD. And also, to make sure we are giving families all the options that are available, and providing them with as many modifications, if needed, as possible, so they have as much as an opportunity as everyone else.”
Be sure to look out for the IDD Support for Families survey, and seriously consider taking the time to complete the survey to ensure that those children and individuals living with an IDD diagnosis receive the best care possible through the new program.
“We want to hear from the community,” Alison expressed. “What do you think would be helpful for this population we’re talking about? What areas are really lacking? What could we do as a community to better help and assist these families and individuals? The goal is to have people achieve their highest potential, whatever that is for them, and not have as many struggles. Our hope is to assist families who have a diagnosis, and also those families who might not have a diagnosis but have concerns. This whole concept has increased in every community in the last three years. It’s time for us to acknowledge that as a community and wrap around those families and youth who need our help and support.”
For more information, please contact Nicole at (360) 716-4935.